Marina Nesmith spends her days in the company of priceless artifacts, antique furniture, and ornate frames as she strives to hide damage and repairs under a flawless gilt surface. In a life that appears as golden as her art, her quest for excellence extends to all things, including her life with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Zoe. When Zoe makes a heartbreaking discovery that brings the mystery surrounding her father and his untimely death to a head, Marina is forced to confront the shameful truth beneath the gleaming veneer of their life.

 Praise for The Gilder


“After reading Kathryn Kay’s lovely debut, I had the best kind of cry. What a beautiful, emotional novel. I loved the way she writes about love, necessary secrets, and the dark unknowability of another person, no matter how close. She writes so well about the vulnerability of strong women, the complexity of long friendship, the ways mothers and daughters protect each other, and sweet, tender forgiveness.”

Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author


“Kathryn Kay’s The Gilder, beautifully set in the romantic city of Florence, reminds us that love, like great art, is always complex. Kay leads her talented artist and loving mother Marina through a courageous quest as labyrinthine as an ancient Italian street. With persistence and passion, Marina discovers that relationships can be repaired, making what is truly golden shine forth.”

Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author


“The Gilder engages the reader from the very first line. Amid sensuous details of life and art in Florence, Kathryn Kay tells a compelling story of seduction and betrayal which ultimately transforms into a story of love and redemption.”

Holly Chamberlin, author of Summer Friends


“In my book on the writing life I talk about taking risks and digging deep to find your voice. I tell my students if they dig for gold they will find gold. I have just finished Kathryn Kay’s debut novel, The Gilder, and, boy, has she hit the mother lode. Her riveting story of friendship, love, betrayal and forgiveness kept me up way beyond my bedtime. Kathryn writes beautifully about difficult things, the things that tear people apart, and she does it with such honesty and tenderness that, clearly, her words come straight from the heart.”

Nancy Aronie, author of Writing From The Heart


Kay has created a fascinating tale, featuring a protagonist like so many wide-eyed expatriates before her, quickly seduced by Florence and the quintessential bohemian couple.... Kay twists her tale in refreshing ways, creating a story about deep female relationships, portrayed in all their complexity and nuance.

Publishers Weekly

Author Interview

Q. I understand you once lived in Florence and I’m wondering how much of this story comes from your own experience living there?
A. Yes, like Marina, I did live in Florence when I was in my early twenties but I stayed for five years. Like her, I did take a restoration course, and while gilding was a component of the course, I specialized in 15th century inlay techniques. I had a friend in Florence who apprenticed with a master gilder and I found it fascinating! I did live in via Luna and my landlord was a poultry broker but as far as I know his son was not a transvestite...